The Eastern African Standby Force’s council of ministers may admit South Sudan and Eritrea to the regional force once the two countries officially express interest to join.

The Chinese News Agency, Xinhua, quotes the EASF director Abdillahi Omar Bouh as saying on Monday that the council of ministers are expected to meet in December in Sudan where the approval process could be initiated.

“Eritrea and South Sudan will have to present an official request to the council of ministers to join. We see no reason to reject the application unless a member state objects to the application,” Bouh said.

South Sudan has since 2013 enjoyed an observer status at the regional force which was established in 2004 with the sole purpose of enhancing peace, security and stability in the region.

Buoh added that the multi-national force is mandated to only intervene in emerging crisis in eastern Africa at the request of the African Union as a last resort after political dialogue and other mechanisms fail. The EASF 10-member states include Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda.